Drawing, Guides, Resources

Guide to Drawing 3 Dimensional Objects

May 28, 2014

Drawing of a drawing

By Mauro Cateb


The key to making your drawings look more realistic is learning how to draw three dimensions. This guide will show you how.

How to Draw 3 Dimensional Shapes

One of the first steps of drawing realistic objects is mastering 3-dimensional shapes. Everything that you will ever want to draw is formed by the shapes you learned in kindergarten: squares, ellipses, cones, and rectangles. Now, long after the age of five, you must learn how to make these shapes pop off of the page.

Step One: Look Around You

 

Can you pick out the shapes in the objects around you? Your mouse is a ellipse. Your computer and keyboard is many combined squares and rectangles.

Every time you start to draw, make it a point to find the hidden shapes in the object.

Step Two: Learning How to Manipulate Shapes

3 dimensional cube drawingManipulating shapes has a lot to do with perspective. Perspective, basically, is drawing things further away smaller than things that are closer.

Take a look at the example. The first shape is a regular square. It’s flat, right? To make it three-dimensional another square is drawn in front of it, slightly lower and to the right.

After that, the square is turned into a 3-dimensional cube by drawing lines from the corners of one square to the other. Notice how the lines farther away are smaller than the lines in the front. 

This process works with any shape that has straight lines.

Step Three: Shading

Example Two 1Shading really makes an object look 3-dimensional.

Before you shade, determine where the light source is. Where is the light shining from? Where will the object be the lightest?

Next, you can start to shade. It can be done in several different ways.

Let’s look at the examples.

The first illustrates how to lay down pencil strokes in a curved shading a circlemotion across the ellipse. The lines need to become lighter as you get closer to the desired light source.

You could stop here, or you could smudge the pencil lines to make a smoother look. You can either use your finger to smudge or a paper stump. The second example shows the ellipse with smudged shading.

Step Four: Adding Shadow

Example TwoThe last step to making a shape 3-dimensional is to give it a shadow. The shadow will be on the opposite side of the light source. It should always be an elongated version of the shape.

Three Dimensional Ball Image by Alina BradfordThe example above shows how the ellipse would look with a shadow. Notice how the shadow is lighter closer to the light source, and darker farther away. An object usually has a small outline shadow underneath it, as well.

How to Draw Advanced 3-Dimensional Shapes

These advanced 3-dimensional shapes are the basis for almost any solid object. Each shape incorporates repetition, shadow and well-placed lines to create an optical illusion. 

Drawing a Cube Shape 

3 dimensional cube drawingTo draw a cube, the artist should start by drawing a square. Then, another square that is slightly larger is drawn on top of the first. 

The perspective that is being used in the drawing will determine where the second square is placed. If the upper left-hand corner of the second square is placed in the upper left-hand side of the first square then the viewer will be looking down on the cube. The cube will also be turned to the right. 

If the lower right-hand corner of the second square is placed in the lower right-hand side of the first square then the viewer will be looking up at the cube. The cube will also be turned to the left. 

Connect the corners of the two squares with straight lines. Finish the cube by shading it. The inner part of the cube should always be shaded darker than the other areas of the cube. 

Drawing a Prism Shape 

how to draw a three dimensional triangleTo draw a prism, the artist should start by drawing a triangle. Then, another triangle that is slightly larger is drawn on top of the first. 

Just like with a cube, the perspective that is being used in the drawing will determine where the second triangle is placed. If the point of the second triangle is on the upper right-hand side of the first triangle then the viewer will be looking down on the triangle and the prism will be turned to the right. 

If the point of the second triangle is placed above the point of the first triangle then the viewer will be looking up at the cube. 

To avoid lop-sided prisms always draw the second triangle with the point outside of the first triangle. 

The triangle’s corners are connected with straight lines to finish the shape.

Drawing Pyramid and Cone Shapes 

How to draw 3 dimensional conesDrawing pyramid and cone shapes are all about what is used for a base. 

A pyramid is drawn by starting with a triangle or diamond shaped base. Then, lines are drawn from the corners of the base into a point. The perspective of the finished pyramid depends on the length of the sides of the base shape. If the sides of the shape are smaller on one side then the pyramid will seem to lean toward that side. 

A cone starts with an oval base. Two lines are drawn from each side into a point. The perspective of the one depends on whether the point of the lines is above or below the oval and how close the point is to the oval. 

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